Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > California >
Dec 1, 2012 12:03 PM

Fresno Tostada Compuesta

Long ago, Fresno had a Spanish restaurant called "Estradas" and they had, by far, the best salad on a tortilla that they called Tostada Compuesta. Anyway, I've tried a lot of comparable dishes at numerous Mexican restaurants but none have really come close. I think there was a bit of vinegar involved.
For those that remember, have you found anything similiar? As an alternative, does anyone have a favorite from a local menu?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Oh yes, I remember the place *and* the tostada compuesta. They have been gone for at least 15 yrs. I haven't found a place that comes close to their tostadas. You might fix them at home with this dressing. It may come close to Estrada's.

    •1 cup vegetable oil
    •1 cup apple cider vinegar
    •2 Tbs. honey
    •1/2 tsp. dried parsley
    •2 tsp. garlic powder
    •2 Tbs. water
    •pinch of pepper
    •1/2 tsp. sea salt

    2 Replies
    1. re: Gail

      Thanks, I'll try it. It amazes me that every local Mexican restaurant seems to have the same, bland, undressed, Tostada Compuesta. If just one of them tried to replicate Estrada's, they'd have a real winner on their menu. Apparently, Tostada Compuestas are not too popular, judging by the response to the OP.

      1. re: Gail

        I am chiming in a bit late, but I remember being told that the salad dressing contained 1/2 lemon juice and 1/2 vinegar.

      2. I grew up eating at Estradas, both in Fresno and Visalia and ALWAYS had the Tostada Compuesta. Like you, I've never found a restaurant tostada that comes close to the wonderful Estrada's version. I have created a tostada that might be a close second. I can't remember if the Estradas Tostada had crumbled cooked chorizo sprinkled on top of the fried tortilla and refried beans, but that's what I do and then add sprinkle of grated cheddar. Then a quick trip under the broiler to get the chorizo, cheese and beans piping hot. Immediately top with a mound of finely shredded ICEBERG lettuce that was tossed in a simple vinegar & oil, salt & pepper dressing.
        I miss so many of the wonderful things I grew up eating in Fresno and especially that fabulous Tostada Compuesta!!!!!

        7 Replies
        1. re: mary c

          I believe the branch in Colma, south of San Francisco, is still open.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Melanie.......I checked out some Yelp reviews of the Estradas in Colma and many of the reviewers mentioned the "sizzling salad", which does sound alot like the Tostada Compuesta from the old Estradas in Fresno. Do you think it is the same family??

            1. re: mary c

              I've never been, but it's supposed to be the same family. Here's an old thread on the SF board and I've bumped it to ask for new updates.


              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Melanie, it's great if I can get the tostada when in the Bay Area, but amazingly, nobody seems to even have a "favorite" around Fresno. If I knew anyone that owned a Mexican restaurant, I'd forward Jeffs recipe. I think Gail is right, it's too complicated for me to try to replicate at home.

                1. re: FAT Traveler

                  Another interesting tidbit . . . when I was in LA earlier this month, my friend pointed out a Mexican restaurant that's been around for decades and mentioned that it made a tostada that featured a hot salad with dressing drizzled over the top. In that case, it was a sweetened tomato sauce. Made me wonder whether this style of tostada was once part of Mexican-American restaurant offerings, say 50 years ago, but has since died out.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Melanie, please keep us updated on any history that you dig up. TIA

                    Cheers and Happy New Year,


                    1. re: PolarBear

                      According to the online menu for stalwart El Cholo in Los Angeles, it has been serving tostada compuesta since it opened in 1923. No idea if its version is similar.

                      Sounds like Estrada may be the Fresno restaurant referenced in this amusing mother-in-law story, but alas, the recipe is not for its tostada compuesta.

        2. Ahh!
          Estrada's Spanish Kitchen. When I was growing up in Visalia in the 70's, that was the go to place after church. I would have two sizzling tostads and that weird yet wonderful macaroni and cheese. There was usually fried chicken there somewhere also. You allways knew when your hot salad was approaching because you could hear it all the way from the kitchen! Sadly, I attended the very last day of their existence at a north Blackstone location that is now a hookah lounge. They took the names of everyone there that wanted to be notified of a recipe book that was promised to be coming soon but, because of family squables, I have heard that it will never come to pass.
          In the early 80's, a lady friend of mine got a job as a waitress there and I hounded that woman to no end for the kitchen secrets regarding that hot salad and I gained a gold mine! Plus, late one night, after consuming a few beers, I convinced her to let me in the back and take a chair so I might observe the goings on. She provided me with a 1 pound jar of fresh mortared garlic and salt. 75% crushed garlic and 25% salt by weight. 1 tsp. of this was added to 2 cups of red wine vinegar. The tostada consisted of a fried to a crisp corn tortilla with refried beans spread to cover. Added to this was choriso (longanisa is even better!) that had been cooked separately and drained of the grease . It was then sprinkled on the top of the beans with a small amount of cheddar cheese. This was placed on a pre heated plate (it will have to hot enough to fry an egg all by it self) and then placed back under the salamander / broiler to melt the cheese. The next step is to dunk a tong full of shredded iceberg lettuce into the cold garlic vinegar mixture and then drop it on top of the tostada. The vinegar that drips off hits the super heated plate and creates the famous sizzle. It also softens the the tortilla a bit. They also had a mild red salsa that went on top that consisted of canned tomatoes, sugar, diced green chiles, a bit of soy bean oil and salt.
          There you have it.
          By the way, don't try to heat up your Correl plates: they will not survive the process. I have purchased oven ready plates at Cresco Restaurant supply on Van Ness south of the 41 in Fresno. You can get them there for about ten bucks a pop.

          12 Replies
          1. re: JeffHaggard

            Jeff, talk about "inside information"!! Thanks for typing it all up. It does seem to be a bit of a laborious recipe, but maybe I'm just lazy. Anyway, a nice blast from the past. We drove miles from the other side to town to eat there...even enjoyed the atmosphere.

            1. re: JeffHaggard

              Jeff......YES!!! You described the Estrada'sTostada Compuesta perfectly. I had forgotten about the salsa topping. Thank you for your great post.

              1. re: JeffHaggard

                Its always cool to hear of the little tricks cooks use for their own recipes that become famous.
                Just to clarify, was this a Spanish or Mexican restaurant? Because the recipe sounds like a variation of a Mexican tostada.

                1. re: Agrippa

                  If my memory is right, I do think it was Estrada's Spanish Kitchen. Maybe some of the other posters who also dined there will know.

                  1. re: Agrippa

                    I agree with Mary. I think it was supposed to be Spanish. Now: if I could just get a hold of the recipe for their macaroni and cheese!

                    1. re: JeffHaggard

                      This thread on the Home Cooking board proposes something close to the mac and cheese recipe.

                      And who knows Kenny Hook of Visalia? Is he cooking anywhere?

                      1. re: JeffHaggard

                        You are absolutely correct! That's why it was called "Estrada's Spanish Kitchen". Some of my Mexican friends did not like Estrada's Spanish Kitchen on Mooney Blvd, Visalia, CA (Now the site of Red Lobster). They would say that it was just "Americanized Mexican Food". My reply was its NOT Mexican at all! It's Spanish! As in from the country of SPAIN!!!
                        No offense to anyone - but there is a huge difference in regional Mexican Cuisines just like there are huge differences in the many different regions of Spain.

                    2. re: JeffHaggard

                      I grew up in S.F. on Estrada's in Colma, sizzling tostada compuesta, fabulous macaroni, & chicken. My dad would go in the kitchen and visit with the owners when we arrived every Saturday night. I miss Estrada's here in Fresno and can't believe it closed!!! Was very sad to our whole family. I checked out the menu for the Estrada's in Colma, but I didn't see the macaroni on it? Anyone know if it truly is the same family?

                      1. re: JeffHaggard

                        I can hear the sizzle and recall the wonderful taste just reading your description. Thanks for posting!

                        1. re: JeffHaggard

                          Jeff, when I worked at Estrada's in Visalia (late 70's) I have a recollection about the dressing for the tostadas that may or may not be accurate. I remember seeing the dressing in glass shakers like you would use for powdered sugar. The vinaigrette dressing I recall was clear, not red, and it was about ⅓ oil. After the shredded ice cold lettuce was placed on top, they would shake the vinaigrette over the top of the tostada, mixing the vinegar and oil as they shook it and the holes in the top of the shaker helped control the amount applied. Then they applied the red sauce. (I do have to say that my taste memory tells me that it did taste more lilt red wine vinegar, than white).
                          That is my recollection anyway... Thanks again for posting!

                          1. re: sweetteach

                            That looks like it. My family already has plans to Visit Colma the next time we are up that way...

                            1. re: sweetteach

                              That looks pretty close to what I recall ordering; I think mine came without sliced olives and cheese on top Still trying to pefect 'that taste'. I have tried lot s of suggestions...not quite there, yet. The hot metal plate was important as I remember.

                              1. re: sweetteach

                                NOT the Estrada's of Visalia, CA. Looks good though.

                              2. Great info Jeff! I appreciate the details on the dressing. My basic vinaigrette was a little off but I didn't know why. And to me the El Pato Mexican Tomato Sauce straight out of the can is a close match for the salsa they used on top.